Hermann Frank (24 January 1898 – 22 May 1946) was a prominent Sudeten German Nazi official in Czechoslovakia prior to and during World War II and an SS-Obergruppenführer. He was executed by hanging after World War II for his role in organizing the massacres of the people of the Czech villages of Lidice and Ležáky.
[Frank surrendered to the U.S. Army in Pilsen on 9 May 1945. He was extradited to the People’s Court in Prague and tried during March and April 1946. After being convicted of war crimes and the obliteration of Lidice, Frank was sentenced to death. He was hanged on 22 May 1946, using the Austro-Hungarian "pole method", in the courtyard of the Pankrac prison in Prague“Pole hanging”.
Austria, Czechoslovakia and Hungary used an unusual variant of short drop hanging. There was no gallows as such, but rather a stout vertical wooden pole (or post) of about 2-3 meters height with a metal hook or eye bolt at the top to which a thin rope noose was attached. There was either a ladder or steps up to a small platform at the back of the pole for the executioner to stand on. The pinioned prisoner was placed with their back to the pole and then lifted up either manually by the hangman’s assistants, on a simple board platform or by a cloth sling running under their armpits so that the executioner could put the noose round their neck. At the signal they were now jerked downwards by the assistants thus tightening the noose. This jerk combined with the thinness of the cord typically caused a carotid reflex and led to rapid unconsciousness. Late 19th century Austrian hangman, Josef Lang, considered this method to be far more humane than American style standard drop hanging and claimed that no criminal suffered for more than a minute with his method. It is unclear when pole hanging ceased although it was definitely in use until after the end of World War II and was used on various war criminals. A video of the hanging of Karl Hermann Frank which took place on the 22nd of May 1946 in Prague’s Pankrác Prison is currently available on YouTube. He was lifted up to the top of the pole by a sling and then dropped about a meter, the hangman covering Frank’s face with his hand. This film clearly demonstrates how pole hanging worked and does not give the impression that Frank struggled after suspension. There are also photos of the execution of Serbs by the Austrians during the war. It is quite probable that Milada Horakova (female) who was convicted of treason by the communist regime in Czechoslovakia suffered this death when she was hanged on 27th of June 1950. It has been reported that her executioner was ordered to “let the bitch suffocate”.
After the end of World War II, Albert Pierrepoint who hanged eight men at Karlou in Austria for war crimes, taught Austrian hangmen the British method and this was used for the last few executions there. Austria’s last execution took place on the 24th of March 1950 when Johann Trnka was hanged for murder. It is not known whether Czechoslovakia and Hungary continued to use pole hanging or a more conventional gallows for executions from the 1950’s. Czechoslovakia’s last execution was in 1989 and Hungary’s in 1988.,Hermann Frank was executed before 5,000 onlookers. He was buried in an anonymous pit at Prague's Ďáblice cemetery.sic]